Patricia Watwood, principle subject is the sacred feminine

Artist Statement

I am a figurative artist working in the classical forms of oil painting and drawing media. I use narrative structures like symbols and myth to explore meaning in our common experience and to evoke a spiritual presence. My work prioritizes aesthetic principles, technical rigor, craft, perception and design. My principle subject is the sacred feminine, which for me is an enduring vessel for the exploration of the human condition. I use art history as a foil for expressing both my place in the lineage of art, and my contemporary experience. I am continually digging to unearth Beauty as a tool of power. I seek a presentation of the figure that does not separate the sensual and beautiful from the intelligent and meaningful. Beauty is a great rhetorical tool, it can move people, change minds, and inspire action and devotion. By juxtaposing classical feminine figuration with environmental decay or a narrative context, I suggest the necessity of cultural and ecological transformation.

Tradition has nothing to do with the past. To follow a tradition is to embrace a manner of working in which the values and aspirations of the past are continuous with those of the future. I chase what artists in the past have also chased, a celebration of the human form, a passion for and humility before nature, the use of metaphor and narrative to puzzle out the mysteries of our time here on earth, and a belief in the emotional power of the common visual language of representation.


Patricia Watwood is an American figurative painter. Watwood’s paintings explore transformative narratives and mythological archetypes using the human figure. Her oil paintings show traditional methods and a technical rigor that balance perception and conceptual design. Her most common subject matter is the nude, particularly women, in images that convey the sacred feminine. Watwood has exhibited at galleries and institutions worldwide such as Hirschl & Adler and The Forbes Galleries in NYC, The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Butler Museum, and the Bruce Museum. In 2012-2013, her work was viewed in China in an historic presentation of American painting, Contemporary American Realism, which toured six cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Watwood’s solo museum exhibit, Patricia Watwood: Myths & Individuals was on view in two venues in 2011-2012: St. Louis University Museum of Art, and The Forbes Galleries, NYC. Watwood’s paintings are in private and public collections internationally, such as The New Britain Museum of American Art, Harvard University, St. Louis City Hall, Weill-Cornell Medical College, St. Louis University Museum of Art, and Culver Academy. Her paintings have been included in anthologies of contemporary figurative art, like ?Naked: The Nude in America,? by Bram Dijkstra, The Figure: Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture Contemporary Perspectives, by Margaret McCann, and The Figurative Artist’s Handbook, by Robert Zeller.

Watwood has earned many awards, including the Elizabeth Greensheilds Foundation Grant; International Portrait Competition Honor Award (2011) PSof A; First Place in the Members Only Competition Outside the Box? (2016) PSof A; The James Amster Award from the National Arts Club; and recognition as a Art Renewal Center Living Master, and ARC finalist and honor awards in their annual salons.

Watwood earned her MFA in figurative art with Honors from New York Academy of Art, and studied with Jacob Collins as a founding member of the Water Street Atelier. Her teachers include Martha Erlebacher, Steven Assael, Vincent Desiderio and Ted Seth Jacobs. Watwood has been an adjunct professor of drawing at New York Academy of Art, has given lectures and workshops across the country, and is a featured art instructor with She has written articles for American Artist, American Arts Quarterly, and Fine Art Connoisseur; and published in academic anthologies on criticism, like the TRAC Conference publication.

She has produced two art instructional DVDs: Creating Portrait from Life: Patricia Watwood, with Streamline Art Videos; and Figure Painting: Realistic Skin Tone with Patricia Watwood, with Interweave Press.

Born and raised in St. Louis (1971), she lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and daughters.
Patricia Watwood
Apr 8, 2020

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